To continue from part 1, Sugars – the good, the bad & the disgusting, I’m going to add a best to worst list of sweeteners here. If you think I missed something, let me know and I’ll add it or modify this list…
(UPDATE: check out this newer post: Sugar Addiction Help: My Easy Tips for How to Curb a Sweet Tooth — Plus How I Lost 10#)
These are in order from best choices to the worst choices:
- No sugar is best, and only small amounts of natural sugars. (Hopefully someday I’ll get there!)
- Stevia, rapadura, sucanat, maple syrup, maple sugar, raw local honey (if you can’t find a local source you can get raw honey here), palm or coconut sugar, molasses, dates – these are all the least refined, the most natural, and contain the most nutrients – scroll down at that link for a comparison chart of the nutrient content in sugars. (Also, more info below about some of these natural sweeteners.)
- Turbinado, organic regular cane sugar (this one is a little better because organic has no GMOs from the sugar beets), evaporated cane juice.
- Avoid if at all possible: Regular refined white table sugar or brown sugar (see above about GMOs) – refined sugars have no nutrients left in them at all…
- Avoid for sure: high fructose corn syrup, agave nectar, xylitol, erythritol, artificial sugars (Splenda/Aspartame, Nutrasweet, etc. – it’s better to use small amounts of real sweeteners above than to use these fake sugars!)
What I’ve learned:
- I haven’t had much luck with Stevia, so I’m afraid to experiment more. Please comment and tell us what you like it in. Update: I love it in this sparkling lemonade!
- Rapadura or sucanat are great for some things, like cinnamon toast or to sweeten a sauce, but I have found it to give baked goods too strong a taste.
- I love using palm or coconut sugar in baking, it’s my favorite replacement sugar nowadays and baked goods taste perfectly wonderful! (I just replace it with a 1:1 ratio, but often will decrease the sugar in recipes, at least a little, just because I can and no one ever notices.)
- Molasses is a sweetener with a strong taste, I use a little in this nut bar recipe and also in this homemade pizza crust (Yum!), and of course in Molasses cookies, but what else do you like it in?
- As I said, this chocolate mousse is a great recipe using dates as the sweetener. You process them up really small and they give a good flavor.
- Maple syrup (or maple sugar) is great for the ooey gooey layer in the bottom of the pan of cinnamon rolls, in homemade ice cream, to give smoothies a little sweet taste, and in homemade applesauce! (Read Is Maple Syrup a Safe Sweetener for Diabetics?)
- I like raw honey in my homemade bread, in a homemade hot fudge sauce or chocolate fudge, and to substitute part of the sugar in cookie recipes, but if I substitute it for all the sugar, the honey taste takes over.
- I don’t worry so much about the tiny amounts of xylitol in gum or toothpaste, but maybe I should…any thoughts?
- Often you can drastically cut the amount of sugar in a recipe without anyone noticing. It’s easy to do in chocolate chip cookies, for example, because there’s also chocolate chips for sweetness!
Other information on sweeteners:
- More info on these natural sweeteners:
- Molasses is approximately 65 percent as sweet as sugar and can be used in both cooking and baking. Blackstrap molasses is an excellent source of manganese and copper, and also contains iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium, and Vitamin B6.
- Maple syrup is most widely known as a topping for pancakes and waffles, but it’s also a natural sweetener that can be used in baking and is a good source of magnesium and zinc. Maple syrup is about 60 percent as sweet as sugar. Maple syrup can cause blood sugar levels to rise, so those with diabetes should use it sparingly. Read more about Maple syrup.
- Raw Honey is a natural sweetener that has powerful disease-protecting antioxidants thatare thought toreduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Honey is 25 to 50 percent sweeter than sugar andcan be used in cooking, baking, and beverages. As with maple syrup, honey can cause a spike in blood sugar levels andshould be used sparingly by those with diabetes. (Note: Do not give honey to children under one year of age as it may put younger children at risk for botulism.)
- Muscovado – I haven’t used this but heard it is wonderful.
- Where you can buy healthy sweeteners online - that’s the kind I use the most, but also good is local maple syrup or raw honey. :)